“Beth Roper had already sold her husband Doug’s boat and his pickup truck. Her daughter sends $500 a month or more. But it was nowhere near enough to pay the $5,950-a-month bill at Doug’s assisted-living facility. So last year, Roper, 65, abandoned her own plans to retire,” Chris Rowland writes at The Washington Post. “To the public school librarian from Poquoson, Va., it feels like a betrayal of a social contract. Doug Roper, a longtime high school history teacher and wrestling coach, has a pension and Social Security. The Ropers own a home; they have savings. Yet the expense of Doug’s residential Alzheimer’s care poses a grave threat to their middle-class nest egg. At nearly $72,000, a year in assisted living for Doug, 67, costs more than her $64,000 annual salary. ‘It’s devastating,’ she said. ‘You can’t wrap your head around it.’ A wave of Americans has been reaching retirement age largely unprepared for the extraordinary costs of specialized care. These aging baby boomers — 73 million strong, the oldest of whom turn 77 this year — pose an unprecedented challenge to the U.S. economy, as individual families shoulder an increasingly ruinous financial burden with little help from stalemated policymakers in Washington. The dilemma is particularly vexing for those in the economic middle. They can’t afford the high costs of care on their own, yet their resources are too high for them to qualify for federal safety-net insurance. An estimated 18 million middle-income boomers will require care for moderate to severe needs but be unable to pay for it, according to an analysis of the gap by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. ‘It’s this really enormous financial bomb sitting out there that most people are just hoping won’t hit them,’ said Marc A. Cohen, co-director of the LeadingAge LTSS Center at the University of Massachusetts at Boston. ‘There’s an incredible amount of confusion and denial.’” Chris Rowland, “Senior care is crushingly expensive. Boomers aren’t ready,” The Washington Post.
Jeanne Pinder is the founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts. She worked at The New York Times for almost 25 years as a reporter, editor and human resources executive, then volunteered for a buyout and founded... More by Jeanne Pinder